Barry Jackson

Here’s what UM has in mind with its injured star receiver

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday as we approach UM-FSU (3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC):

Junior receiver Ahmmon Richards, who has missed four consecutive games with a bone bruise on a knee, remains sidelined indefinitely and coach Mark Richt said Tuesday there’s a chance he could redshirt.

Because the NCAA is now permitting players to play four games and still redshirt, it’s possible Richards could play in the regular season finale, the ACC Championship game (if UM gets there) and a bowl game and still redshirt.

“If things don’t get better, it could happen,” Richt said of Richards redshirting. “That’s a possibility. He’s not able this week.”

Richards has been sidelined since playing in the opener. Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown remains hopeful Richards can help this season.

“Of course, but you obviously can’t rush how a body comes back and responds to stuff,” Brown said Tuesday.

Draftniks said Richards could have been a first-round pick if he was healthy and dynamic this season. With the injury this season, it appears far more likely he returns next season.

In Richards’ absence, UM has used three different starters (with Jeff Thomas and Lawrence Cager) each of the past three games – Brian Hightower, Darrell Langham and most recently, Mike Harley. Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said that decision is based entirely on who practices best each week.

In other words, Harley’s strong game last week will have no bearing on whether he starts against FSU, Brown said.

Brown likes how UM’s receiver group has “unselfish guys. We had a bunch of guys who didn’t catch a ball last week but blocked their butts off, continue to do it down after down.”

It says something about UM’s skill position talent that neither of Miami’s five-star freshmen – running back Lorenzo Lingard nor receiver Mark Pope – played a single snap against UNC.

Among the four freshmen receivers, Brian Hightower played 12 snaps against UNC and Dee Wiggins 10, per Herald correspondent Daniel Gould.

So why no snaps for Lingard or Pope last week?

“Both those guys are very talented,” Brown said. “More of them not playing is less about how good they are, how good they’re practicing and more about the guys in front of them. Both those guys are playing fine.”

Lingard has rushed 17 times for 136 yards, an 8.0 average. Pope has no receptions this season.

What can Pope do to catch up to Hightower and Wiggins? “Keep working every day,” Brown said. “He’s going to be in good shape.”

Teammates are thoroughly impressed how Malik Rosier has handled his demotion. Tyler Gauthier noted he’s the first person to go to up N’Kosi Perry when he comes off the field to brief him on things Rosier saw from the opposing defense. Perry also credited Rosier for helping.

“Malik has a good attitude, continues to push N’Kosi,” Brown said.

There’s no indication Rosier wants to transfer, but even if he did, he couldn’t because he already used his redshirt year (2014). Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant announced he was transferring after losing his job to a younger player, taking advantage of that rule that allows players who haven’t redshirted before to play four games and still redshirt.

As far as any UM players transferring who haven’t redshirted previously and haven’t played much, Richt wasn’t aware of any but said in general: “I’m sure people will be more aware that could happen. We don’t know. We can’t control that.”

Venzell Boulware has taken command of the left guard job. He played 40 snaps against North Carolina, compared with 18 for Jahair Jones. “That’s what we hoped [Boulware] would be when he got here [as a junior grad transfer from Tennessee],” Brown said.

Richt said UM doesn’t “scour the nation” for grad transfers but selectively pursues those at need areas.

What do UM players think of FSU’s “turnover backpack” — a clear ripoff of UM’s turnover chain?

“You mean the purse,” Boulware cracked Tuesday.

“Everyone tries to copy a good thing,” center Gauthier said. “Ours is a little bit better.”

Quick stuff: Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman (ankle) and safety Jaquan Johnson (hamstring) practiced Tuesday, an encouraging sign… Richt said the fact UM hasn’t beaten FSU at home since 2004 is “as bad as the seven losses in a row going into last year’s game. That’s a meaningful bit of history we have to change the course of.”…. Richt loves the job Bubba Baxa is doing, on kicks and kickoffs. He’s 4 for 5 on field goals, 27 for 28 on extra points…

Richt didn’t want to say UM-FSU is the best rivalry, noting people aren’t looking at this year’s game as the winner being a favorite for the college football playoff. “For this to be really, really great, it has to get back to that,” Richt said.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments